TripAdvisor Reviewers Comment On Hotel Trying To Influence Reviews
The Law of… remaining unbiased
TripAdvisor could help you to avoid a nightmare of a holiday, however, it can have some problems. Recently, reviewers have been commenting on hoteliers that may be attempting to influence reviews, something which arguably goes against the ethos of TripAdvisor.
What Is TripAdvisor and How Does It Work?
TripAdvisor was founded in the February of 2000 when it was a portal to read the thoughts of professional critics, alongside the ability to chime in with your own thoughts. As with many successful modern day websites, it grew as a result of user-generated content, which in this case came from everyday reviewers.
While professional critics might be able to provide greater depth and insight, there is always the concern that they have an agenda or have been influenced in some way, and on TripAdvisor, the reviews should be genuine and free of any influence.
In fact, when you post a review you have to check a box where you essentially confirm that your review is based on your own experience, that you don't have a business relationship with the place in question, and that you haven’t been offered any incentive for sharing your thoughts.
Simply put, you're promising that your review is genuine.
TripAdvisor's Lack Of Bias May Be In Jeopardy
It has come to light that some hoteliers may be trying to influence holidaymakers into removing negative reviews or only posting positive ones. For example, a couple of recent reviewers at the CHIC by Royalton Luxury Resorts commented on just such an issue:
TripAdvisor user 'notyetworldly' wrote a review a few days before this article was written that was titled "Management bully tactics for reviews" in which they say that they "posted a long negative review while still at the resort", but they had to remove it so that they could receive a refund.
They explain that upon arriving at the hotel, their "first room was […] unacceptable", elaborating that "the walls, furniture, and bed sheets were filthy", "the furniture (bedside table) was falling apart", and their room "overlooked the staff road".
They say that they paid for an upgrade, which they were pleased with, but on the third day of their holiday "the skies opened" up and the resort was engulfed in "torrential" rain. As a result of this, they state that their "room developed a pond" that was "several feet across", something they felt "constitutes an emergency".
Understandably, they "wrote a scathing review and posted it" on TripAdvisor, but they say that because their "situation was pretty unique" the hotel "management was able to identify" who wrote the review, and one of "the butlers approached [them] and advised that the manager wanted to talk".
After discussing the issue they say that they were offered "a partial refund for the cost of the upgrade", however, they were told that they would "have to take down [their] negative TripAdvisor review and sign a Release" that effectively promised "that when [they returned] home [they wouldn't] post anything negative" about the hotel.
'notyetworldly' says that while she was willing to "take down the review", "under no circumstances would [she] sign that release", even though she was told that as she's "from another country and [the hotel] can't actually enforce [it]", and that they "just need [her] to sign it".
She says that she spoke to the general manager of the Chic by Royalton, but was informed that if there was "no release" then there would be "no refund", and after much deliberation, she says that she "got the refund and didn't sign the release, but was REQUIRED to take down the prior review before getting the partial refund".
In her review titled "Don't waste your money", 'Nikki R' comments on similar issues, encountering issues with her room, explaining that when they complained to the hotelier, they "tried to get [them] to agree to the room and sign a form saying [that they] agreed basically not to complain".
She says that they "didn't agree" and later were provided with "a room that had black mould and mildew on the walls", before being moved to a room they say "was even worse with mould and mildew", after which they say that they "finally [receiving] a decent room".
She explains that they experienced "two days of torrential rain" which resulted in "the sewer [being] backed up and there [being] no running water for 2 days". She also says that "the resort literally started falling apart", as there were "wall and ceiling pieces […] everywhere", and goes on to say meals being served were "cold" and her "boyfriend was sick a whole day from something he ate".
Due to the problems they had experienced, 'Nikki R' says that they "were offered a pool cabana", and later "a romantic dinner" which they accepted. Upon accepting the offer, they say that they were asked "to sign [a] waiver", in which "it stated, in formal terms, that [they] were not to talk bad about the hotel if [they] agreed to do the dinner", which they say meant that they "basically […] waived [their] right to make any further complaints".
Why 'Paid Reviews' Could Be Bad For Everyone
It's important to be aware by accepting any form of compensation, whether it's a free upgrade, a refund or a discount on the understanding that you'll write a better review, you're technically in breach of the user agreement with TripAdvisor, but there's a good reason for this.
Your review could skew the overall score of any given hotel, but more importantly, you could give other holidaymakers a false impression of what a hotel is like. This isn't just bad for TripAdvisor; it's bad for other holidaymakers who use reviews to help them to decide where to go away, as it makes finding out if a hotel has a problem with customer service, outdated decor, or even holiday illness that bit more difficult.
Speak To a Travel Law Specialist before Accepting Compensation
If you are offered compensation for a minor issue, such as a delayed dinner reservation or a facility being unavailable, then it might be worth accepting, however, if you suffer an illness such as food poisoning, it's important to speak to a travel law specialist first.
A food poisoning claim could be worth a substantial amount of compensation, and by speaking to a member of our holiday claims team, we can advise you of what options are available to you during a free no-obligation consultation.
Just remember that whatever you decide to do; try to keep your TripAdvisor reviews impartial.